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Question of the Week – Manatees

Posted by romeethredge on January 21, 2012

Last week’s question concerned a photo and it was a manatee in a spring run in Central Florida, Orange City, just off the St Johns river.  Florida County Agent Doug Mayo answered it pretty quickly. Yes, they come up into the springs in the winter when it gets cold. The spring here was a constant 72 degrees F.  It was amazing that hundreds of wild manatees were in this spring run. Out at the edge of the river we could see them swimming into the St Johns.  It was flowing backwards to most rivers I’ve ever seen, the Saint Johns flows north. You could see signs of their encounters with boats and propellers, too. There were several with young.

They eat about 100 pounds of aquatic plants a day.  If we had about a thousand in Lake Seminole they could do some work on the weeds there.

Here’s some info from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission:

Adults are typically 9-10 feet long and weigh around 1000 pounds.  However, they may grow to over 13 feet and weigh more than 3500 pounds. Adults are gray in color, with very sparse fine hairs distributed over much of the body. Stiff whiskers grow around the face and lips. Algae growing on the dermis may make them appear green or brown. They have two fore limbs, usually with 3 or 4 nails, that they use for slow movements and to grasp vegetation while eating.  They have a rounded flattened tail for swimming. The nostrils, located on the upper surface of the snout, tightly close with valves when underwater. While they can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes they typically surface to breathe approximately every 3-5 minutes. Their eyes are small and have a membrane that can be drawn over them for protection. The ear openings, located just behind the eyes, are small and lack external lobes. They have a flexible upper lip that is used to draw food into the mouth.

The manatee is a large, herbivorous, aquatic mammal that inhabits coastal waters and rivers.

The West Indian manatee’s range is from the southern United States throughout the Caribbean Islands, Central America, and to northern South America. In the United States the manatee ranges up the eastern coastline into Georgia, the Carolinas, and beyond during warm months. In the Gulf they are occasionally sighted as far west as Texas. During cold months manatees in the southern United States migrate to the warm waters of south Florida, or find a source of warm water such as artesian springs or industrial discharges.

They consume freshwater and marine plants of all kinds. Gestation is approximately 13 months and usually one calf is born. The calf may stay with the cow for up to 2 years. Manatees reach sexual maturity in 3-5 years and may live over 50 years.

A manatee uses its flippers and tail to steer itself through the water and moves its tail up and down to propel itself forward. Manatees are quite agile in the water. They can swim upside down, roll, do somersaults or move vertically in the water.

Manatees are mammals. They must surface approximately every five minutes to breathe, but can hold their breath for as long as twenty minutes when resting. The manatee’s nose is usually the only part of its body that comes out of the water when it breathes.

Manatees are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Also known as a “sea cow,” manatees usually spend up to eight hours a day grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants. A manatee can consume up to 10 percent of its body weight in aquatic vegetation daily. The manatee uses its muscular lips to tear plants much like an elephant uses its trunk.

Manatees rest from 2 to 12 hours a day either suspended near the water’s surface or lying on the bottom, usually for several hours at a time.















































This week's question: What is this and is it bad or good?

4 Responses to “Question of the Week – Manatees”

  1. keith bowen said

    It depends if you’re standing under it with your wife or not!!!!!

  2. Mike Casey said

    misletoe, GOOD Christmas!!!!!!

  3. Bad for Pecan Trees, Rob Cohen

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